anti-death penalty tour stops in H’burg

Brent Finnegan -- October 18th, 2006

Journey of Hope, an organization of activists against the death penalty is touring through Virginia (second only to Texas in number of executions since 1976) speaking at churches and colleges around the Commonwealth, trying to get signatures on a petition to Governor Kaine to declare a moratorium on executions.

Activists from the group spoke at JMU in the Health & Human Services building, and at Blessed Sacrament earlier tonight. The crowd at JMU was comprised mostly of college students. Not too many townies in the room (this always seems to happen — news of events on campus seldom ever makes it into town. I didn’t even know about it until one hour before it started).

The speakers included SueZann Bosler, a woman who watched her father get stabbed to death, and went on to fight against a death sentence for her father’s killer, and Shujaa Graham, a man wrongfully convicted of the murder of a prison guard in the 1970s, and exonerated and later released in 1981. Both testimonies were powerful, regardless of what you believe about capital punishment.

I don’t know how many signatures they collected in H’burg. As you may recall, this is an issue that Kilgore grilled Kaine about last year during their gubernatorial campaigns. Will Kaine respond to the petitions? As a JoH spokeswoman pointed out, Kaine may not like the death penalty, but he’s a politician first.

Wednesday afternoon, members of the group will be speaking at JMU and EMU. The event at JMU was organized/co-sponsored by Amnesty International, the Justice Studies department, and Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

UPDATE: TV3 reported on last night’s presentation, but made no mention of this afternoon’s events. The DNR’s Kelly Jasper wrote a slightly more detailed retelling of the speakers’ testimonies.


5 Responses to “anti-death penalty tour stops in H’burg”

  1. I’m a little late here, but Journey of Hope actually stayed at the hotel I work at, Comfort Inn, and they were very nice people. I found it interesting that everyone in the group were family members of murder victims. This definitely helps drive their message by adding credibility. They wore t-shirts with anti-death penalty messages on them which started a host of arguments with regular guests at the hotel and some guests actually complained to us about the group’s politics. It was an interesting couple of days. I talked to the head of the Virginia chapter of Journey of Hope and he was, not only smart, but very convincing. Had I not already been against the death penalty I probably would have reconsidered after chatting with him.

  2. finnegan says:

    They complained about the groups’ views? What did they expect you to do about it? Kick them out because of what they believe?

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